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Soviet Union's BT-7 Bystrochodnij Tankov (Fast Tank)

Photos

Late model BT-7 Fast Tank:
Soviet Union's Late model BT-7 Fast Tank
Imperial War Museum

Design

After seeing that tanks with riveted construction were vulnerable it was decided to produce a welded tank.

In September 1936, during maneuvers in Byelorussia, British General Wavell and Colonel Martel saw the tank. Martel wrote: "The design of the fighting body is not very good but the performance of the machine is at least twice as good as the A9." He further suggested that the British War Office purchase one.

Had new Saslavsky brakes, new main clutch, new turret, thicker armor, and all welded.

Main Armament

The main gun was the 45 mm model 1934 / 45 mm Model 35 tank gun.

In 1938 an improved gun sighting system, called TOS, was installed. This was developed by V. A. Pavlov and A. Z. Tumanov. The main armament could now better fire on the move.

Engine

The engine was a copy of a German BMW aircraft engine.

New engine with an improved gearbox with 3 forward gears. Used a control stick for steering.

Turret

The first turrets for the BT-7 were the same cylindrical turret that was used on the BT-5. A conical turret was then used with MG in rear. It had round hatches on top which led to the nickname "Mickey Mouse" from German troops.

Production

  • BT-7: 2,000
    • Production: 1935 - ?
  • BT-7M, BT-8: ~700, 706
    • Production: 1938 - 1940, 1939 - 1941
  • BT-IS: 1

Variants

  • BT-7: Had a better engine than previous BT models. The gearbox provided 3 forward gears.
  • BT-7-1: Cylindrical turret from the BT-5. Hull a new electro-welded hull. Armor was thicker. The transmission was improved and the fuel capacity was increased. The tracks were smaller pitch.
  • BT-7-2, BT-7 Ob. 1937: Conical turret with twin horn periscopes. Had 2 round hatches on the turret room and was nicknamed "Mickey Mouse" by the Germans. Hull armored was redesinged. All vehicles had radios.
  • BT-7-1(U), BT-7TU, BT-7(V), BT-7-1(V): Command tank. Carried 132-146 shells. Had a 71-TK radio set installed. The cylindrical turrets had a wrap around antenna, whereas the conical turrets had a rod antenna.
  • OP-7: Flame thrower installed in left side / right side of hull. Weighed 11.5 tons. Apparently didn't reach the front lines.
  • BT-7A: Artillery tank. Had short barrel 76.2 mm gun installed. Carried 40 shells if it had a radio, and 50 if it didn't. Turret was modified from a T-28. Because of the increased weight it was no longer able to move on wheels.
  • BT-7M, BT-8: Was a major redesign in 1939. It had a sloping front glacis instead of the previous pointed noses. Had a V-2 diesel engine installed. The engine was based on a Hispano-Suiza 12Y aircraft engine. Hull MG was placed next to the driver. Used at Khalkin-Gol and in Finland. Used a T-28 turret.
  • BT-7U, BT-7TU: Radio installed.
  • BT-8A: Artillery tank. Had 76.2 mm 1927/32 tank gun. Only a test model built.
  • BT-IS: Prototype only. Used BT-7M hull. Used a BT-7 turret with 45 mm gun. The armor on the hull sides was sloped.

Usage

Used by the 2nd Mechanized Brigade at Lake Hasan against the Japanese in 1938. The 6th and 11th Tank Brigades had 400 BT-7s and BT-5s, and fought against the Japanese at the Khalkin Gol River from May to August 1939.

Used during the invasion of Poland in 1939 and in Finland in 1939-1940.

German Invasion

The BT-7s broke down from the lack of maintenance, were lightly armored, and as a result would destroyed in large quantities by the Germans.

Specifications

  BT-7 (1936 model)
Crew 3
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 30,450 lb
13.68 tons, 13.7 tons, 13.8 tons, 14 tons
13,900 kg
Length 18', 18' 7", 18' 8", 18.65', 20' 0.5"
5.68 m, 5.66 m, 6.8 m
Height 7' 6", 7.5', 7' 11", 7' 11.3", 8' 7"
2.28 m, 2.41 m, 2.42 m
Width 7', , 7' 6", 7' 11.5", 7.98', 8', 8' 7"
2.29 m, 2.43 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 1' 2",
4-4.2 m
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 11.24 psi,
0.75 kp/cm2
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 1: 45 mm
1: 45 mm M-32
1: 45 mm 1934
1: 45 mm 1934 L/46, 45 mm
1: 45 mm Model 35
Secondary  
MG 2: MG
2: 7.62 mm DT MG
2: 7.62 mm MG
2: 7.62 mm / 0.3" DT MG
MG - coaxial 7.62 mm MG
MG - hull 7.62 mm MG
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 132 - 188, 146
Secondary  
MG 2,394
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 10 - 22, 6 - 22, 22
Turret: 15
Hull Front, Upper 13- 22, 22
Hull Front, Lower 13, 22
Hull Sides, Upper 13
Hull Sides, Lower 13
Hull Rear 13
Hull Top 10
Hull Bottom 12, 6-10
Turret Front 15
Turret Sides 15
Turret Rear 15
Turret Top 10, 15
Engine (Make / Model) M-15 T
M-17T
Bore / stroke 4 stroke
Cooling  
Cylinders 12, V-12
Capacity  
Net HP 450, 405@1,750 rpm, 500
Power to weight ratio 32.6 hp/ton
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) 3 forward, 1 reverse
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline
Octane  
Quantity 167 gallons,
790 liters
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°
Max speed 45 mph, 53.4 mph
72 kph, 86 kph
Max speed - tracks 33 mph, 45 mph
53 kph, 72 kph
Max speed - wheels 45 mph, 70 mph,
73 kph, 112 kph
Speed - Cross Country 31 mph
Cross country speed - tracks  
Range - Road 155 miles, 311 miles, 265 miles
250 km, 430 km
Road radius - tracks 249 miles
375 km, 400 km
Road radius - wheels 311 miles
500 km
Range - Cross Country  
Cross country radius - tracks  
Turning radius 20' 6"
Elevation limits  
Fording depth 4'
1.2 m, 1.22 m
Trench crossing 6', 6' 7",
1.83 m, 2 m
Vertical obstacle 1' 10", 2' 6",
0.55 m, 0.76 m
Climbing ability 32°
Suspension (Type) Christie
Wheels each side 4
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width 10"
Width - tire  
Width - track  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  
  BT-7-1
Crew 3
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 13.8 tons
Length 18.65
Height 7.5'
Width 7.98
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance Wheels: 10.5"
Tracks: 12"
Ground contact length 12'
Ground pressure 10.2 psi
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 45 mm L/46
45 mm L/46 A/TK
Secondary  
MG 2: 7.62 mm MG
2: 7.62 mm DTMG
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 172, 172 - 188
Secondary  
MG 2,394
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 15 - 20
Hull Front, Upper 22
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper 13
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear 13
Hull Top 6 - 10
Hull Bottom 6 - 10
Turret Front 10 - 13, 13
Turret Sides 13
Turret Rear 13
Turret Top 10
Engine (Make / Model) M-17T Liberty
MT-17T Liberty modified Aero
Bore / stroke 120 mm / 146 mm
Cooling Water
Cylinders 12, V-12
Capacity  
Net HP 450, 450@1,750 rpm
Power to weight ratio 32.6 hp/ton
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) Wheels: Chain drive
Tracks: Sliding gear
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline
Octane  
Quantity 174 gallons
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°
Max speed 46 mph
Max speed - tracks  
Max speed - wheels 45.6 mph
Speed - Cross Country  
Cross country speed - tracks 33 mph
Range - Road 310 miles
Road radius - tracks  
Road radius - wheels 310 miles
Range - Cross Country 220 miles
Cross country radius - tracks 220 miles
Turning radius 40'
Elevation limits -4° to +40°
Fording depth 3.98'
Trench crossing 6'
Vertical obstacle Wheels: 8"
Tracks: 30"
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type) Christie Independent type
Wheels each side 4
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Width - tire 2 x 3.95"
Width - track 10.25"
Diameter 32.5"
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 6.33'
  BT-7-1V
Crew 3
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 13.6 tons
Length 18.65
Height 7.5'
Width 7.98
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance Wheels: 10.5"
Tracks: 12"
Ground contact length 12'
Ground pressure 10.2 psi
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 45 mm L/46
Secondary  
MG 2: 7.62 mm DTMG
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 188
Secondary  
MG 2,394
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper 22
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper 13
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear 13
Hull Top 6 - 10
Hull Bottom 6 - 10
Turret Front 13
Turret Sides 13
Turret Rear 13
Turret Top 10
Engine (Make / Model) MT-17T Liberty modified Aero
Bore / stroke 120 mm / 146 mm
Cooling Water
Cylinders V-12
Capacity  
Net HP 450@1,750 rpm
Power to weight ratio 32.6 hp/ton
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) Wheels: Chain drive
Tracks: Sliding gear
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline
Octane  
Quantity 174 gallons
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°
Max speed  
Max speed - tracks  
Max speed - wheels 45.6 mph
Speed - Cross Country  
Cross country speed - tracks 33 mph
Range - Road  
Road radius - tracks  
Road radius - wheels 310 miles
Range - Cross Country  
Cross country radius - tracks 220 miles
Turning radius 40'
Elevation limits -4° to +40°
Fording depth 3.98'
Trench crossing 6'
Vertical obstacle Wheels: 8"
Tracks: 30"
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type) Christie Independent type
Wheels each side 4
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Width - tire 2 x 3.95"
Width - track 10.25"
Diameter 32.5"
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 6.33'
  BT-7-2
Crew 3
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 13.68 tons, 13.8 tons
13,900 kg
Length 18.65', 18' 7"
5.66 m
Height 7.5', 7' 11"
2.42 m
Width 7' 6", 7.98'
2.29 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance Wheels: 10.5"
Tracks: 12"
Ground contact length 12'
Ground pressure 10.2 psi
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 45 mm L/46
45 mm L/46 A/TK
Secondary  
MG 2: 7.62 mm MG
2: 7.62 mm DTMG
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 132 - 146
With radio: 146
Without radio: 188
Secondary  
MG 2,394
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 6 - 22
Hull Front, Upper 22
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper 13
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear 13
Hull Top 6 - 10
Hull Bottom 6 - 10
Turret Front 10 - 13, 15
Turret Sides 15
Turret Rear 15
Turret Top 10
Engine (Make / Model) M-17T Liberty
MT-17T Liberty modified Aero
M17-TV-12
Bore / stroke 120 mm / 146 mm
Cooling Water
Cylinders 12, V-12
Capacity  
Net HP 450, 450@1,750 rpm, 500@1,760 rpm
Power to weight ratio 32.6 hp/ton
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) Wheels: Chain drive
Tracks: Sliding gear
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline
Octane  
Quantity 174 gallons
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°
Max speed 45 mph, 46 mph
72 kph
Max speed - tracks  
Max speed - wheels 45.6 mph
Speed - Cross Country 31 mph
50 kph
Cross country speed - tracks 33 mph
Range - Road 265 miles, 310 miles
430 km
Road radius - tracks  
Road radius - wheels 310 miles
Range - Cross Country 220 miles
Cross country radius - tracks 220 miles
Turning radius 40'
Elevation limits -4° to +40°
Fording depth 3.98'
Trench crossing 6'
Vertical obstacle Wheels: 8"
Tracks: 30"
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type) Christie Independent type
Wheels each side 4
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Width - tire 2 x 3.95"
Width - track 10.25"
Diameter 32.5"
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 6.33'
  BT-7A
Crew 3
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 13.8 tons
Length 18', 18.65
Height 7.5'
Width 7.98
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 12"
Ground contact length 12', 12' 6"
Ground pressure 10.2 psi
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 76.2 mm L/16.5
76.2 mm
Secondary  
MG 2: 7.62 mm MG
7.62 mm DTMG
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 50, 132, 172 - 188
Secondary  
MG 2,394
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper 22
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper 13
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear 13
Hull Top 6 - 10
Hull Bottom 6 - 10
Turret Front 10 - 13, 15
Turret Sides 15
Turret Rear 15
Turret Top 10
Engine (Make / Model) M-17T Liberty, MT-17T Liberty modified Aero
Bore / stroke 120 mm / 146 mm
Cooling Water
Cylinders 12, V-12
Capacity  
Net HP 450, 450@1,750 rpm
Power to weight ratio 32.6 hp/ton
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) Wheels: Chain drive
Tracks: Sliding gear
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline
Octane  
Quantity 174 gallons
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°
Max speed 40 mph, 46 mph
Max speed - tracks  
Max speed - wheels  
Speed - Cross Country 33 mph
Cross country speed - tracks  
Range - Road 280 miles, 310 miles
Road radius - tracks  
Road radius - wheels  
Range - Cross Country 220 miles
Cross country radius - tracks  
Turning radius 40'
Elevation limits -4° to +60°
Fording depth 3.98'
Trench crossing 6'
Vertical obstacle 30"
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type) Christie Independent type
Wheels each side 4
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Width - tire 2 x 3.95"
Width - track 10.25"
Diameter 32.5"
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 6.33'
  BT-7M (1939 model), BT-8
Crew 3
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 32,300 lb,
14.4 tons, 14.4-14.5 tons, 14.6 tons, 14.65 tons
14,650 kg
Length 18.65', 20', 20' 0.5"
5.66 m, 6.11 m
Height 7.5', 8', 8' 0.75",
2.42 m, 2.46 m
Width 7.98', 8' 7",
2.29 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 0.35 m
Wheels: 10.5"
Tracks: 12"
Ground contact length 12'
Ground pressure 10.4 psi
0.78 kp/cm2
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 45 mm Model 38
76.2 mm
76.2 mm
76.2 mm L/26
OR 45 mm 1938
Secondary  
MG 2: 7.62 mm MG
MG - coaxial 7.62 mm DT MG
MG - rear turret 7.62 mm DT MG
MG - hull 7.62 mm DT MG
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 40
Secondary  
MG 2,394
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper 22, 30
Hull Front, Lower 22
Hull Sides, Upper 13
Hull Sides, Lower 13
Hull Rear 6 - 10, 13
Hull Top 6 - 10, 10
Hull Bottom 6-10
Turret Front 10 - 15, 15
Turret Sides 15
Turret Rear 15
Turret Top 10, 15
Engine (Make / Model) W-2
V-2
Bore / stroke 150 mm / 187.7 mm
4 stroke
Cooling Water
Cylinders 12, V-12
Capacity  
Net HP 500, 500@2,200 rpm
Power to weight ratio 34.7 hp/ton, 35 hp/ton
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) Wheels: Chain drive
Tracks: Sliding gear
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Diesel
Octane  
Quantity 174 gallons
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°
Max speed 40 mph, 53.4 mph, 54 mph
86 kph
Max speed - tracks 62 kpm
Max speed - wheels 54 mph
86 kph
Speed - Cross Country 31 mph, 39 mph
50 kph
Cross country speed - tracks  
Range - Road 435 miles, 440 miles
Road radius - tracks 600 km
Road radius - wheels 440 miles, 700 km
Range - Cross Country 375 miles
Cross country radius - tracks 375 miles
Turning radius 40'
Elevation limits -10° to +40°
Fording depth 3.25'
1.2 m
Trench crossing 6.85'
2 m
Vertical obstacle 0.55 m
Wheels: 8"
Tracks: 30
Climbing ability 32°
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Width - tire 2 x 3.95"
Width - track 10.25"
Diameter 32.5"
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 6.33
  BT-IS
Crew 3
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 15.35 tons, 15.6 tons
15,600 kg
Length 18' 11", 18.98'
5.76 m
Height 7' 6"
2.28 m
Width 7' 6"
2.28 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance Wheels: 10.5"
Tracks: 12"
Ground contact length 12'
Ground pressure 11 psi
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 45 mm
45 mm L/46
Secondary  
MG 2: 7.62 mm DTMG
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 132
Secondary  
MG 2,394
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 30
Hull Front, Upper 30
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper 15
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear 13
Hull Top 6 - 10
Hull Bottom 6 - 10
Turret Front 30
Turret Sides 20
Turret Rear 15
Turret Top 10
Engine (Make / Model) M17-T-V-12
V-2
Bore / stroke 150 mm / 187.7 mm
Cooling Water
Cylinders V-12
Capacity  
Net HP 500, 500@2,200 rpm
Power to weight ratio 32 hp/ton
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) Wheels: Chain drive
Tracks: Sliding gear
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Diesel
Octane  
Quantity 174 gallons
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°
Max speed 40 mph
65 kph
Max speed - tracks  
Max speed - wheels 70 mph
Speed - Cross Country  
Cross country speed - tracks 40 mph
Range - Road 250 miles
400 km
Road radius - tracks  
Road radius - wheels 430 miles
Range - Cross Country  
Cross country radius - tracks 370 miles
Turning radius 40'
Elevation limits -10° to +40°
Fording depth 3.25'
Trench crossing 6.85'
Vertical obstacle Wheels: 8"
Tracks: 30"
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type) Christie Independent type
Wheels each side 4
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Width - tire 2 x 3.95"
Width - track 10.25"
Diameter 32.5"
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 6.33'

Sources:

  1. Russian Tanks of World War II Stalin's Armored Might, by Tim Bean & Will Fowler, 2002
  2. Russian Tanks and Armored Vehicles 1917-1945, by Wolfgang Fleischer, 1999
  3. The Encyclopedia of Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles - The Comprehensive Guide to Over 900 Armored Fighting Vehicles From 1915 to the Present Day, General Editor: Christopher F. Foss, 2002
  4. Tanks of the World, 1915-1945, Peter Chamberlain, Chris Ellis, 1972
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  6. Airfix Magazine Guide 22 Russian Tanks of World War 2, John Milsom and Steve Zaloga, 1977
  7. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  8. Profile AFV Weapons 37 Russian BT Series, John F. Milsom, 1971
  9. Russian Armour Volume 2: Light Tank T-27, T-38, BT, T-26, T-40, T-50, T-60, T-70, Mikhail Baryatinskiy, 2006
  10. The Illustrated Guide to Tanks of the World, George Forty, 2006
  11. World War I and II Tanks, George Forty, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site